A lot of my conversations with coaching clients are about doing the work. Or as often happens, not doing the work. We talk about what stops us from doing the work. We talk about what prevents us from doing the work that we told ourselves we wanted to do.
We talk about time and circumstances, as if these were the things that were stopping us from doing the work. We talk about fears of rejection, we talk about life. We talk about all the things that could possibly get in the way of us starting to create the work we want to create.
There are so many reasons we can give ourselves for not doing the work.
We feel like we don’t know where to begin. We’re unsure of how to go about it, exactly. We feel like we’re not prepared enough, we are under-equipped for the task at hand. We tell ourselves we need to be ‘more ready’.
Often, we’re scared. We feel daunted by what’s ahead of us. We can’t handle it right now. Maybe it feels too big for us to tackle in this moment, so we put it off for later.
Maybe we’re tired. Maybe we’re uninspired. Maybe we simply don’t feel like doing it right now.
Or maybe we don’t feel like it’s worth starting at all. Maybe we’re unconvinced of the value of going ahead. We’d rather stay in the safety of knowing we aren’t going to do that thing that we want to, after all.
All of these reasons are legitimate reasons for not doing the work.
And all of these reasons will hold you back from realising the work you want to do.
Whether you are afraid, uninspired, exhausted, or disbelieving; if you know this is the work you need to do, then it’d be better to get on with it all the same.
So, let’s begin where we can. Let’s start small, and scrappy.
Let us work with what we do have. Let’s show up, as we are, in the now and the present, and see where that can take us.
If I wait until I am ready to write, I will be waiting for a very long time. If I wait until I am inspired to paint, I will be waiting for a very long time. If I wait until I am confident, I will die waiting.
So, instead, I choose momentum. I choose tiny, imperceptible steps. I choose piece by piece, moment by moment, until I find myself finally moving.
Small and scrappy could be another term for heart and fight. Small and scrappy is tough and agile. It celebrates small wins, like the fact you showed up. Small and scrappy is not flashy or ostentatious. It is does not draw attention to itself. But it’s there: fighting, persistent, and full of commitment to the cause. Small and scrappy will help you keep on going. And that’s what we need, to keep going.
Small and scrappy says ‘something’ is better than ‘nothing’. ‘Something’ is tangible to hold onto. ‘Something’ is more alive and real than the thoughts you discard in your head because they are not good enough.
Something is better than nothing. The words that I share in this letter are of infinitely greater value to the person reading them, than the words that I keep to myself.
Something is better than nothing. The work that you bring to the world, imperfect and full of mistakes, is of infinitely greater value than the work that you didn’t dare make at all.
Small and scrappy says: don’t wait for your ideas to be perfect. They won’t come.
Instead, be patient and loving. Be curious and inquisitive. Be ready to make mistakes. Be ready to make a lot of mistakes. Allow yourself to be wrong. Allow yourself to stop mid-sentence and pick it back up again.
Don’t wait for your ideas to be fully formed. Often, we don’t get to see our ideas until we’ve managed to work through them. Iterate. Improve. Get it down and edit later. You know all of this, and yet it’s so easy to hesitate anyway. Yes, it’s hard. It feels wrong, like we’re unqualified to start. Unprepared to the point of foolishness. But still, we must. If we are to make any measure of life, we must be prepared to be scrappy, and not be above all of that.
Finally, forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for your fears and your temptation to run away. Forgive yourself for not starting earlier. You don’t need to linger on the whys and what-ifs, all you need to do is look forward and see what’s right in front of you: a human being with capabilities and insight who will make a unique mark on the world. A human being doing their work in the world in a way that no one else can.
Small and scrappy is rooting for you, and I am too.
This post was one of my ‘Every other Sunday letters’ - where I share my personal insights with anyone wanting a little encouragement on their own creative journey. If you’d like to receive these newsletters in your inbox, you can sign up here.